13 December, 2019
On December 13th, Cooperation and Development Institute – CDI organized the round- table “Economic and Social Convergence: Current achievements and future challenges of reform processes in Albania.” The event aimed to inform and trigger a discussion with the relevant country stakeholders on the state of implementation of Regional Economic Area (REA) Multi- Annual Plan (MAP) with a focus on mobility and digital pillar, on the mapping of economic, innovative and scientific potential in the country, on the relevant public policies that have a particular focus on innovation, mobility of youth and academics and employability.
The roundtable started with the welcoming remarks of Ms. Krisela Hackaj, Executive Director of Cooperation and Development Institute and Ms. Stine Klapper, Head of Office, Friedrich-Ebert- Foundation in Tirana, partner in this Project.
Mrs. Hackaj highlighted the importance of prioritization of education related measures in the overall public policies portfolio, as well of conducting impact assessment of various strategies in force covering the economic and social development of the country. She also emphasized how inclusion of youth in sectorial debates, even if too technical sometimes, can be of added value in their personal and professional development.
Later on, the panel kicked off with Ms. Florensa Haxhi, Director General of Development Programs and Cooperation Unit, at the Albanian Prime Minister’s Office, who explained the current achievements of the Regional Economic Area as well as the challenges ahead. Ms. Haxhi added that the main focus at the moment remains on youth and on the relevant policies, like the law for start-ups and potential fiscal facilities for young people who want to build a start-up. In addition, Ms. Haxhi informed that the study mapping the broadband infrastructure situation in Albania, including the respective financial estimation for the intervention in this sector, will be launched very soon. Moreover, the mapping report on the economic, innovation and scientific potential for smart specialization in Albania under the Smart Specialization Strategy S3 process will be presented beginning of next year.
Ms. Diana Leka, Head of Secretariat of Investment Council (IC) stated that the lack of reliable data remains a challenge in Albania. According to Ms. Leka, Albania can be competitive in many areas, but we need to first recognize our “niche” where we have a comparative advantage, while emphasizing that education is the key element for achieving a sustainable competitiveness.Ms. Leka ended her intervention by highlighting the importance of the focus in the determination of the vision of development of the country.
Likewise, Mr. Arben Shkodra, Secretary General of Albanian Manufacturers Union emphasized the importance of being connected and building systemic linkages that speed up and facilitate the adoption of legislation. As far as it concerns REA MAP, Mr. Shkodra added that Albania should first have a clear domestic vision and agenda, including projections for future investments such as having an Agenda 2030, then be able to integrate and fully participate in regional markets under REA MAP. Also, he stated that remodeling or re-skilling of education is essential for achieving such socio-economic vision for the country.
The panel was concluded by Ms. Dafina Peci, Executive Director of National Youth Congress underlined the necessity for designing inclusive youth policies that aim to increase youth participation in the decision making processes not only in Tirana, but also in other cities. According to Ms. Peci there is a lack of strategic plans and funds for youth employment and participation in local level. Ms. Peci claimed that Albanian youth should also be more informed on EU Chapters such as 19 and 26 of the EU acquis which deal particularly with youth.
The roundtable was moderated by Mrs. Ornela Liperi, Editor in Chief of Monitor Magazine and was organized in the framework of the project “Applying Sector Approach to Civil Society Contribution in EU Integration of Albania – CONNECT”, which is funded by the European Union Delegation in Tirana through the Albanian Ministry of Finance and Economy (CFCU) and is being implemented by Cooperation and Development Institute in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Tirana) and CentarSavremenePolitike/European Western Balkans (Belgrade).
Participants emphasized the importance of demographic factors in the development of public policies, increasing the research and innovation capacities of universities, increasing of mobility of teachers and students in the region, as well as adapt curricula in the universities in order to maximize the impact of the development strategies and instruments which are available or under development.
A working paper reflecting the interesting discussion of this roundtable will be published very soon.